Humanising Dentistry in Manchester and beyond

by | Sep 29, 2023 | Guest Authors, Service Learning (SL) | 0 comments

It’s a stark fact that in the UK, people from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to have poor oral health, The University of Manchester is working to better serve these communities and reduce these inequalities.

Humanising Dentistry is an umbrella project involving service learning, working across different communities to do just that. Led by Prof Raj Ariyaratnam, it combines academic study with fulfilling the needs of the community by reducing oral health inequalities. The work varies in the communities that they serve, but all provide quality oral health treatment and/or education to those who may ordinarily find it difficult to access.  whilst further educating our Undergraduates in the importance of community and inclusive oral healthcare.

Humanising Dentistry themes include:

  • 1st Language Project
    • Across Manchester there are many communities where English is the second (or third or fourth) language of communication. It aims to reach out to these underserved communities where language barriers may ordinarily inhibit access to oral healthcare.
  • Homeless & refugees
    • Focussing on creating a supportive environment promoting dental literacy and enabling positive oral health behaviours through donations of resources.
  • Oral Hygiene Workshops
    • Part of the University’s Widening participation initiative,  workshops are delivered to school pupils by University students encouraging oral health literacy and inspiring future generations of dental professionals.
  • Dental Playbox
    • A partnership with charity Action for Sick Children,  bringing students into contact with deprived families across Manchester to care for and learn from the underserved.
  • Project Cambodia
    • In some populations, a lack of access to oral healthcare can pose significant risk of illness. Undergraduates take part with local dentists in Cambodia to address this, working in sorely underserved communities.

All of the work is student-led, improving student skills and allowing them to develop into well rounded individuals with experience to better serve those in need in their future careers.

Students say:

It has improved (sic) my capacity to relate with a variety of perspectives, an appreciation of life and its diverse values and cultural differences. It has done nothing but make me a better person, and a compassionate healthcare provider, as well as positively impact the lives and comfort of those in the communities I have served”.